Capital Punishment Has Officially Ended in Washington State

The state Supreme Court just ruled the death penalty is arbitrary and racially biased

The death chamber at Washington State Penitentiary Ted S. Warren/AP

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Washington state just abolished capital punishment. On Thursday morning, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that the state’s death penalty is unconstitutional because it’s racially biased and arbitrary applied. 

“[T]he use of the death penalty is unequally applied—sometimes by where the crime took place, or the county of residence, or the available budgetary resources at any given point in time, or the race of the defendant,” the judges wrote in their opinion.

The ruling comes at a time when the death penalty across the United States has been on the decline, as its popularity wanes and drug manufacturers refuse to sell drugs used in lethal injections to prisons. Washington has not executed an inmate since 2010 when Cal Brown was put to death with a single dose of sodium thiopental for the 1991 murder of Holly Washa.

The remaining eight people on death row will automatically have their sentences converted to life imprisonment.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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